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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  June 24, 2014 11:30am-12:01pm EDT

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tell flowers found in his garden in nomady, france. thank you for watch. "inside story" is next, reminder you can always check us out 24 howard a day by going to our website where the news never stops. >> hello, i'm ray suarez.
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after months of behind the scenes diplomatic pressure and more public calls for their release worldwide three journalists covering egypt for al jazeera have been sentenced to long prison terms. after the fall of the muslim brotherhood-led government, mohammed morsi, the new military government declared the brotherhood a terrorist organization. interviewing the muslim brotherhood in the course of a few weeks had been transformed from interviewing the country's leaders into a crime. now despite pressure from around the world three of our colleagues are being sent to prison. egypt's new bosses seem to want the muslim brotherhood, the power of egypt after mohamed morsi . our colleagues are still part of the story. covering is what reporters do, but the egyptian government made reporting a crime. >> in december right after the
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muslim brotherhood was deemed a banned terrorist organization in egypt, i spoke to peter greste on our program. >> does the designation by the egyptian government by the brotherhood as a terrorist organization represent or marginalize politics. >> it carries very heavy consequences, and we're seeing interior ministry saying anyone who is protesting, advocating in favor of muslim brotherhood ideology, anyone who is passing out pamphlets belonging to the brotherhood will be imprisoned for five years. they've gone on to say that the muslim brotherhood leaders anybody who finances the brotherhood, anyone who provides
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information to the brotherhood could spend life behind bars. so it is a very, very serious shift in the government's policies. we've already seen 23 people arrested because they were handing out pamphlets on behalf of the brotherhood. this is not a rhetorical shift. this is a clamp down on all the brotherhood's assets, affiliat ed groups or anyone who supports them. >> that is peter greste joining truss cairo. thank you, peter, stay safe. >> just three weeks later his hotel was stormed by police. he was arrested along with bad er mohammed and mohammed f a, hmy was arrested. another al jazeera journalist abdullah elshamy was arrested without grounds.
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he was released after spending 100 days on hunger strike, but for the other three journalists their sentences were read money. >> peter greste is sentenced to seven years in prison. >> outrage echoed in the caught room as peter and bader were sentenced to seven years. mohammed was sentenced to ten years because of possession of a weapon, actually shells he had picked up off the ground. >> for nothing they gave him seven years. >> peter's parents were monitoring it on social media
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from australia. >> my god. my god. >> that's crazy. that's crazy. that's absolutely crazy. >> egyptian prosecutors produced outlandish evidence in the sentencing including a podcast greste worked on while he worked with the bbc. family photos from a vacation in europe and music from his ipod. al jazeera rejects the charges and maintain that they were just doing their jobs reporting all sides of the story. >> this is not just about al jazeera staff who have been sentenced extraordinarily today. this is about freedom of speech, the rights of journalists to carry out their trade of journalism. >> australia's foreign minister julia bishop was quick to condemned verdict. >> we're deeply concerned that this verdict is part of a
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broader attempt to muzzle the media's freedom that under hol that uphold he is democracies around the world. >> this is a chilling and draconian sentence. it's deeply disturbing to see in the midsts of egypt's transition. it simply cannot stand if egypt is going to be able to move forward in the way that egypt needs to move forward, in order to respond to the extraordinary aspirations of those young people who twice came in to tahr tahrir square in order to demand the response of government. so the success of egypt going forward will depend on the protection of human rights. >> secretary of state john kerry just met with president al sisi a day ago and lobbied for the
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release of the journalists. the u.s. froze $1.3 million in military aid but told al sisi that the u.s. was going ahead with aid with the delivery of ten apache helicopters. the sentencing of al jazeera journalists, the future of reporting in egypt, the possibilities for a different solution. that's this time on inside story. joining us for that conversati conversation, an exiled egyptian journalist who is currently a fellow at the university of new york. jeffrey robinson, a former u.n. appeals judge and amy hawthorne, fellow at the university at middle east atlantic council. let me start with you, were you
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surprised by the outcome of this case? >> no, i was not surprised at all. actually i could see from day one when they arrested the journalists of al jazeera the outcome of that farcical trial and bogus case they were talking about. it's really, i mean today it's a sad day, another sad day in my life because it brought back all the bad memories to me, the memories of the cage, the memories of the unfair judges and the unfair investigative judges, and the military, the fact that the military were choreographing the whole thing, mobilizing the mob to come to the court to ask for the sentence to be landed on us, the
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defendants for nothing. for just trying to train --i'm talking about my case, to train my fellow egyptian journalists to be better journalists, to be more independent and more professional. today is another sad day in my life. it brought back all the bad memories to me. >> in many cases like these around the world it sometimes goes differently if you are a native journalist working in your native country, and you can sometimes disappear without anybody knowing you've been taken compared when you're a foreign national and there are other interests from outside pushing on you. so you weren't surprised that an australian and canadian were sentenced by the egyptian court rather than being expelled from the country. >> well, based on my experience,
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i was on trial on behalf of the u.s. government and u.s. ngos who tried to make things better in egypt. so actually it was not th me on trial but the u.s. policies in the middle east. i was not surprised at all to see that sentence landing on australian and some other foreigners, foreign journalists. the fact that the international community, if there is such a thing, which we can call an international community kept silence, sometimes they paid lip service in our case, it was difficult precursor for what was going to happen later on. >> let me turn to jeffrey robertson at this point. did you surprise you that the
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government hardly brothered to put on a prosecutorial case, hardly presented any evidence in court? >> no, it didn't because the judges are rigged. these are judge who is will do what the government and in this case the army wants. there has recently been an arrest report by the international bar association which makes it clear that you cannot get a fair trial, which is what international law requires. it may be on appeal the sentences will be reduced. there was a case the other day of some school girls, teenage school girls who had been sentenced for 11 years for a peaceful demonstration, and their sentences were changed to a suspended sentence. we've had hundreds of people
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sentenced to death for being members or supporters of the muslim brotherhood, and it may be that those sentences will be stayed. but what is going on in egypt at the moment is that there is a demonization of the muslim brotherhood being run by the authorities and the judges at low levels are following, doing what they think the government wants. and that means that you have the chilling affect -- >> countries are very protective of their reputations. today there was a full-page ad in the new york times condemning the sentences. no less than the secretary of state of the united states put in a word with the new leader of egypt. are there case where is
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where there is a solution found that allows face-saving to survive. >> first off, thank you for allowing me to be on your show and express our concern for our colleagues. the egyptian government does care about its international reputation, to be sure, but i believe that the military and president sisi has calculated there is not going to be a high cost to pay in egypt's international relations by going through with this blatantly political verdict and convicting people to harsh sentences. they don't like bad publicity but they'll pay the price because they've calculated there is not going to be heavy costs with the united states, europe and other countries. that's unfortunate but that's the message secretary kerry largely sent in his visit to cairo.
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he signaled that u.s.-egypt relations are very important. we want to resume our military aid to the country, and so the signal was given to egypt, this will cause tension but we will move past it. >> we'll take a short break. when we come back we'll talk about increasing danger of
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>> you're watching "inside story." calling egypt short of international standards free but not always fair. three journalists have been given long prison terms for talked to the banned muslim brotherhood. jeffrey robertson just before
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the break you gave us a grim assessment of the state. is that the same opinion that you gave the family of peter greste when they contacted you for help in this case? could you offer them no optimistic words? >> no, i think as i say that there is a prospect that more intelligent judges will be available. egypt has a tradition of considerably high level academic level judging. but the problem is peter greste is australian, and we've seen the australian foreign minister express deep concern, as politicians do, but not taking action. australia should be taking action under article 41 under the international covenant that guarantees freedom of speech. now egypt has signed that, and
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australia as the state of the national could take an action against egypt. yet not a sign of any international law action because states don't like taking action against other states. i think this is unfortunate because what egypt has done is break international law by charging journalist has are simply trying to cover an issue with breaching egyptian national security and putting on no evidence whatsoever that there has been any preach of national security. that is a blatant breach of the right of the freedom of expression. that is why other states are entitled. egypt today puts out this statement saying don't interfere with our internal affairs. it's not egypt's internal affairs because they're chilling freedom of expression of
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everyone to look at what is happening in egypt. i think that other states should be taking what action is available under international law to bring egypt to show that they can't get away with this. and if it comes to the stage of sanctioning, putting sanctions on these judges for a start, you should be named, shamed, and drummed out of--should not be allowed to travel to europe or america, we have to start punishing or putting such sanctions as we can, and for america to bestow helicopters on this regime at a time when it is chilling what america really stands for, which is freedom of speech. >> amy hawthorne, let me turn to you at this point. i'm wondering whether it's just as important or even more important that the name on their business card is al jazeera than
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it is their individual passports or individual backgrounds? is this a shot at emirate of qatar because of al jazeera and the royal family support of the muslim brotherhood. >> yes, it seems clear that there are multiple levels to this case and one of the major levels is the political dispute or the intention of the egyptian government to send a message to qatar because of past policies towards egypt. and it's also about sending a message to journalists that the costs will be very, very high. i think this verdict sends a clear message to qatar, and it has a broader message to other journalists and others in egypt, both egyptians and foreigners who are trying to speak accurately in egypt. there are many, many disturbing levels of this case. but yes, i believe it's a
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political case between egypt and qatar. >> can you control journalism any longer? in the age of the internet, in the age of twitter, in the age where every time i saw tahrir square there were people taking pictures with smart phones. is there a way to control information the way your government is trying to do so now? >> it is unfortunate that the government in egypt cannot realize the fact that we live in a different world than the world that we lived 40 years ago or even 30 years ago. nobody can control journalists and journalism the way they they can control it. but again, it makes very much sense for me what they've been trying to do since july 3rd. the first thing that viruses target is the immune system of the
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body. also in dictatorship the first thing a dictatorship targets is the immune system of the society, which is free and independent journalism. for me they are going by the book of any dictators. it has been like this throughout history. the thing that doesn't make sense to me about this is the position of the international community. the international community is basically keeping silent on what is happening in egypt. there is no such thing as internallalist on international affairs. hen you go out as a military and you kill hundreds of people just for taking to the streets to voice their opinion this is no longer internal affairs.
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this is the affairs of the whole world. again, i believe, at least, this is the positive part of it. i believe the military of egypt by behaving like this are using up all their thoughts very quickly. but in the meantime i appeal to the international community to put an end to this, and they don't have to worry about details they don't want to talk about. that old saying of the zulu tribe, don't worry about crocodiles in the river. then there are none. >> we'll talk about the international community whether there is enough leverage now to set these journalists free.
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>> consider this: the news of the day plus so much more. >> we begin with the growing controversy. >> answers to the questions no one else will ask. >> real perspective, consider this on al jazeera america
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>> the system with joe burlinger only on al jazeera america >> welcome back to "inside
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story." i'm ray suarez. we're looking at the sentencing of three al jazeera journalists to long prison terms. the arrests of four al jazeera staffers, one has just been released, illustrates the dangers of covering the rest of the world and looks at how the government and international norms work with reporters. i wonder if government is going to go for bat the way they would for aid workers, human rights, elected officials. people of different walks of life are less expendable than reporters who i think it might be assumed understand the risks. >> yes, but we depend on reporters to tell us what is going on in the countries. their role is crucial. i think it dependents on the country. they will not go t
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to bat. perhaps in other countries they would go to bat. i think it depends on the country and the international relationship in the community. there is a double standard , unfortunately. >> jeffrey robertson, where you are bet something legal. it is not where i'm sitting in washington, but would you bet that you these men are serve out their services? >> no, i think it will prevail but at the moment they're human sacrifices. we like strong army governments in the middle east because we haven't got it elsewhere, but it does point out the difficulties in human rights development at the moment. this is a blatant breach of the international right to protect
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freedom of speech by jailing journalists and chilling coverage of egypt. and jet the international outcry is very muted. it does show that australia and canada have to go to the tribunal that is available. otherwise expressions of deep concern are simply hypocritical. we have to start sanctioning those who jail journalists for doing their job. we have to stop them from traveling. we have to deny them banking rights and entering into our countries. otherwise they will get away with it, and they will be. they will be successful because the bbc and other organizations will not dare to cover the muslim brotherhood. >> let me close with you where i started, and we've been talking about international pressure and courts and trials and appeals and all that. you've been where these men are.
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is it easy to forget that there are people on the outside pulling for you? is it hard to keep hope when you're in one of those cages? >> it's very difficult question to answer. in my case there has not been many people standing up for me during the trial. that's what i kept telling the media at the time. if we don't hang on to each other in such environment next we will hang next to each other. that's what happened, actually. we hang next to each other. that's why i still note that the international community would exhibit more pressure on the egypt government to stop . >> thank you all for joining me today. that brings us to the end of this edition of ms. story. thanks for being with us. in washington, i'm ray suarez.
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a global vigil for jailed al jazerra journalists. but egyptian president stands by the court's decision. >> translator: we will not interfere in judicial matters because the egyptian judiciary is an independent and exalted judiciary. no one inter feared with the affairs of state institutions. ♪ ♪ hello there, welcome to al jazerra live from doha. i am laura kyle. also coming up on the program two months after nigerian school girls are kna